To the great Council of Scotland now admitted to the Regiment, by the providence of God, and by the common consent of the Estates thereof, Your Honors humble servitors and ministers of Christ Jesus within the same, wish grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, with the perpetual increase of the holy Spirit.
From your Honors we received a charge dated at Edinburgh the 29. of April, in the year of our Lord 1560. requiring and commanding us in the name of the eternal God, as we will answer in his presence, to commit to writing, and in a book deliver to your wisdoms our judgements touching the reformation of Religion which heretofore in this Realm (as in others) hath been utterly corrupted: upon the receipt whereof (so many of us as were in this town) did convene, and in unity of mind do offer unto your wisdoms these subsequents for common order and uniformity to be observed in this realm concerning doctrine, administration of Sacraments, election of Ministers, provision for their sustentation, Ecclesiastical discipline, and policy of the Church; Most humbly requiring your Honors, that as you look for participation with Christ Jesus, that neither ye admit any thing which God’s plain word shall not approve, neither yet that ye shall reject such ordinances as equity, justice, and God’s word do specify. For as we will not bind your wisdoms to our judgments further then we are able to prove by God’s plain Scriptures: so must we most humbly crave of you, even as ye will answer in God’s presence (before whom both ye and we must appear to render accounts of all our facts) that ye repudiate nothing for pleasure and affection of men, which ye be not able to improve by God’s written and revealed word.
The first head of doctrine.
Seeing that Christ Jesus is he whom God the Father hath commanded only to be heard and followed of his sheep, wee judge it necessary that his Gospel be truly and openly preached in every Church and Assembly of this realm, and that all doctrine repugnant to the same, be utterly repressed, as damnable to man’s salvation.
The explication of the first head.
LEST that upon this generality ungodly men take occasion to cavil, this we add for explication. By preaching of the Gospel we understand not only the Scriptures of the new Testament, but also of the old, to wit, the Law, Prophets, & Histories, in which Christ Jesus is no less contained in figure, then we have him now expressed in verity. And therefore with the Apostle we affirm, that all Scripture inspired of God is profitable to instruct, to reprove, and to exhort. In which books of old and new Testaments, we affirm that all thing necessary for the instruction of the Church, and to make the man of God perfect, is contained and sufficiently expressed.
By the contrary doctrine we understand whatsoever men by laws, councils, or constitutions, have imposed upon the consciences of men, without the expressed commandment of God’s word, such as be the vows to chastity, forswearing of marriage, binding of men and women to several and disguised apparels, to the superstitious observation of fasting days, difference of meat for conscience sake, prayer for the dead, and keeping of holy days of certain Saints commanded by man, such as be all those that the Papists have invented, as the feasts (as they term them) of the Apostles, Martyrs, Virgins, of Christmas, Circumcision, Epiphany, Purification, and other fond feasts of our Lady: which things because in God’s Scriptures they neither have commandment nor assurance, we judge them utterly to be abolished from this Realm: affirming farther that the obstinate maintainers and teachers of such abominations ought not to escape the punishment of the civil Magistrate.
The second head of Sacraments.
TO Christ Jesus his holy Gospel truly preached, of necessity it is, that his holy Sacraments be annexed, and truly ministered, as seals and visible confirmations of the spiritual promises contained in the word, and they be two, to wit, Baptism, and the holy Supper of the Lord Jesus, which are then rightly ministered, when by a lawful Minister the people, before the administration of the same, are plainly instructed, and put in mind of God’s free grace and mercy, offered unto the penitent in Christ Jesus: when God’s promises are rehearsed, the end and use of Sacraments preached and declared, and that in such a tongue as the people do understand: when farther to them is nothing added, from them nothing diminished, and in their practice nothing changed besides the Institution of the Lord Jesus, and practice of his holy Apostles.
And albeit the order of Geneva which now is used in some of our Churches, is sufficient to instruct the diligent Reader how that both these Sacraments may be rightly ministered, yet for an uniformity to be kept, we have thought good to add this as superabundant.
In Baptism we acknowledge nothing to be used except the element of water only (that the word and declaration of the promises ought to proceed we have said before) wherefore whosoever presumeth in Baptism to use oil, salt, wax, spittle, conjuration and crossing accuseth the perfect institution of Christ Jesus, of imperfection. For it was void of all such inventions devised by men, and such as would presume to alter Christ’s perfect Ordinance you ought severely to punish.
The Table of the Lord is then most rightly ministered when it approacheth most near to Christ’s own action. But plain it is, that at Supper Christ Jesus sat with his Disciples; and therefore do we judge that sitting at a table is most convenient to that holy action, that bread and wine ought to be there, that thanks ought to be given, distribution of the same made, and commandment given that the bread should be taken and eaten, and that all should likewise drink of the cup of wine, with declaration what both the one and the other is: we suppose no godly man will doubt. For as touching the damnable error of the Papists who dare defraud the common people of the one part of that holy Sacrament, to wit, of the cup of the Lord’s blood, we suppose their error to be so manifest, that it needeth no confutation: neither yet intend we to confute anything in this our simple Confession: But to offer public disputation to all that list [desire] oppugn anything affirmed by us.
That the Minister break the bread and distribute the same to those that be next unto him, commanding the rest, everyone with reverence and sobriety to break with other, we think it nearest to Christ’s action, and to the perfect practice, as we read in Saint Paul; during the which action we think it necessary, that some comfortable places of the Scripture be read, which may bring in mind the death of Christ Jesus, and the benefit of the same. For seeing that in that action we ought chiefly to remember the Lord’s death, we judge the Scriptures making mention of the same, most apt to stir up our dull minds then, and at all times. Let the discretion of the Ministers appoint the places to be read as they think good. What times we think most convenient for the administration of the one and of the other of these Sacraments, shall be declared in the policy of the Church.
The third head touching the abolishing of Idolatry.
AS we require Christ Jesus to be truly preached, and his holy Sacraments rightly ministered, so cannot cease to require Idolatry, with all monuments and places of the same, as Abbeys, Monkeries, Friaries, Nunneries, Chapels, Chantries, Cathedral Churches, Canonries, Colleges, others then presently are Parish Churches or Schools, to be utterly suppressed in all bounds and places of this Realm (except only Palaces, Mansions, and dwelling places adjacent thereto, with Orchards and Yards of the same) as also that idolatry may be removed from the presence of all persons of what estate or condition that ever they be within this Realm.
For let your Honors assuredly be persuaded, that where idolatry is maintained, or permitted, where it may be suppressed, that there shall God’s wrath reign, not only upon the blind and obstinate idolater, but also the negligent sufferers, especially if God have armed their hands with power to suppress such abomination.
By idolatry we understand, the Mass, invocation of Saints, adoration of images, and the keeping and retaining of the same. And finally all honoring of God, not contained in his holy word.
The fourth head concerning Ministers, and their lawful Election.
IN a Church reformed, or tending to reformation, none ought to presume either to preach, either yet to minister the Sacraments, till that orderly they be called to the same. Ordinary Vocation consisteth in Election, Examination, and Admission. And because that election of Ministers in this cursed Papistry hath altogether bene abused, we think expedient to entreat it more largely. It appertaineth to the people, and to every several Congregation to elect their Minister. And in case that they be found negligent therein the space of forty days: The best reformed Church, to wit, the Church of the Superintendent with his council, may present unto them a man whom they judge apt, to feed the flock of Christ Jesus, who must be examined as well in life and manners, as in doctrine and knowledge. And that this may be done with more exact diligence, the persons that are to be examined, must be commanded to appear before men of soundest judgement remaining in some principal town next adjacent unto them, as they that be in Fife, Angus, Mearnes, or Straitharne, to present themselves in Saint Andrewes, These that be in Lothian, Merse or Teviotdale to Edinburgh, and likewise those that be in other Countries must resort to the best reformed City and Towne, that is, to the Town of the Superintendent, where first in the Schools, or failing thereof in open assembly, and before the Congregation, they must give declaration of their gifts, utterance and knowledge, by interpreting some place of Scripture to be appointed by the Ministry, which being ended, the person that is presented, or that offereth himself to the administration of the Church, must be examined by the Ministers and Elders of the Church, and that openly, and before all that list to hear, in all the chief points that now be in controversy betwixt us and the Papists, Anabaptists, Arians, or other such enemies to the Christian Religion. In which, if he be found sound, able to persuade by wholesome doctrine, and to convince the gainsayer, then must he be directed to the Church and Congregation where he should serve, that there in open audience of his Flock in diverse public Sermons, he may give confession of his faith in the article of Justification, in the Office of Christ Jesus, of the number, effect, and use of the Sacraments, and finally of the whole Religion which heretofore hath bene corrupted by the Papists. If his doctrine be found wholesome and able to instruct the simple, and if the Church justly can reprehend nothing in his life, doctrine, nor utterance, then we judge the church, which before was destitute, unreasonable, if they refuse him whom the church did offer; and they should be compelled by the censure of the Council and Church, to receive the person appointed, and approved by the judgement of the godly and learned: unless that the same Church, have presented a man better, or as well qualified to the examination, before that this foresaid trial was taken of the person presented by the counsel of the whole church. As for example, the counsel of the church, presents to any church a man to be their Minister, not knowing that they are otherwise provided: in the meantime, the church is provided of another, sufficient in their judgement for that charge, whom they present to the learned Ministers, and next reformed church to be examined. In this case the presentation of the people to whom he should be appointed Pastor must be preferred to the presentation of the council, or greater church, unless the person presented by the inferior Church be judged unable of the Regiment by the Learned. For altogether this is to be avoided, that any man be violently intruded or thrust in upon any Congregation. But this liberty with all care must be reserved to every several Church, to have their Votes and Suffrages in election of their Ministers. But violent intrusion we call not, when the council of the Church in the fear of God, and for the salvation of the people, offereth unto them a sufficient man to instruct them, whom they shall not be forced to admit before just examination, as before is said.
What may unable any person, that he may not be admitted to the Ministry of the Church.
IT is to be observed, that no person, noted with public infamy, or being unable to edify the Church by wholesome doctrine, or being known of corrupt judgement, be either promoted to the regiment of the Church, or yet retained in Ecclesiastical administration.
BY public infamy we understand, not the common sins and offences which any hath committed in time of blindness, by fragility, (if of the same by a better and more sober conversation he hath declared himself verily penitent) but such capital crimes as the Civil sword ought and may punish with death by the word of God. For besides that the Apostle requireth the life of Ministers to be so irreprehensible, that they have a good testimony from those that be without, wee judge it a thing unseemly and dangerous, that he shall have public authority to preach to others life everlasting, from whom the Civil Magistrate may take the life temporal for a crime publicly committed. And if any object, that the Prince hath pardoned his offence, and that he hath publicly repented, and so not only his life is in assurance, but also that he may be received to the Ministry of the Church, We answer, that repentance doth not take away the temporal punishment of the Law, neither doth the pardon of the Prince remove his infamy before man.
That the life and conversation of the person presented, or to be elected may be the more clearly known, public edicts should be directed to all parts of this Realm, or at the least to those parts where the person had been most conversant: as where he was nourished in letters, or where he continued since the years of infancy and childhood were passed. Straight commandment would be given that if any capital crimes were committed by him, that they should be notified; as if he had committed willful murder, Adultery, if he were a common fornicator; a thief, a drunkard, a fighter, brawler, or contentious person. These Edicts ought to be notified in the chief Cities, with the like charge and commandment, with declaration that such as concealed his sins known did deceive and betray (so far as in them lay) the Church which is the Spouse of Christ Jesus, and did communicate with the sins of that wicked man.
The Admission of Ministers to their offices must consist in consent of the people, and Church whereto they shall be appointed, and approbation of the learned Ministers appointed for their examination.
We judge it expedient that the admission of Ministers be in open audience, that some special Minister make a Sermon touching the duty and office of Ministers, touching their manners, conversation and life: as also touching the obedience which the Church oweth to their Ministers. Commandment should be given as well to the Minister as to the people, both being present: To wit, that he with all careful diligence attend upon the flock of Christ Jesus over the which he is appointed Preacher. That he will walk in the presence of God so sincerely, that the graces of the holy spirit may be multiplied into him, and in the presence of men so soberly and uprightly, that his life may confirm in the eyes of men, that which by tongue and word he persuaded unto others. The people would be exhorted to reverence and honor their ministers, chosen as the servants and Ambassadors of the Lord Jesus, obeying the commandments which they pronounce from God’s mouth and book, even as they would obey God himself. For whosoever heareth Christ’s ministers, heareth himself, and whosoever rejecteth and despiseth their ministry and exhortation, rejecteth and despiseth Christ Jesus. Other ceremony then the public approbation of the people, and declaration of the chief minister, that the person there presented is appointed to serve the Church, we cannot approve, for albeit the Apostles used imposition of hands, yet seeing the miracle is ceased, the using of the ceremony we judge not necessary.
The minister elected, or presented, examined, and as said is, publicly admitted, may neither leave the flock at his pleasure to which he had promised his fidelity & labors, neither yet may the flock reject nor change him at their appetite, unless they be able to convict him of such crimes as deserve deposition, whereof we shall after speak. We mean not but that the whole Church, or the most part thereof, for just considerations, may transfer a minister from one Church to another: neither yet mean we, that men who now serve as it were of benevolence, may not be appointed and elected to serve in other places, but once being solemnly elected, and admitted, we cannot approve that they should change at their own pleasure.
We are not ignorant that the rarity of godly and learned men, shall seem to some a just reason why that so strait and sharp examination should not be taken universally, for so it shall appear, that the most part of the Kirks shall have no minister at all. But let these men understand, that the lack of able men shall not excuse us before God, if by our consent unable men be placed over the flock of Christ Jesus. As also that amongst the Gentiles godly and learned men were also rare, as they be now amongst us, when the Apostle gave the same rule to try & examine ministers, which we now follow. And last, let them understand that it is alike to have no minister at all, and to have an Idol in the place of a true minister: Yea and in some case it is worse, for those that be utterly destitute of ministers, will be diligent to search for them; but those that have a vain shadow, do commonly without further care content themselves with the same, and so remain they continually deceived, thinking that they have a minister, when in very deed they have none. For we cannot judge him a dispensator of God’s mysteries, that in no wise can break the bread of life to the fainting and hungry souls. Neither judge we that the sacraments can be rightly ministered by him in whose mouth God hath put no Sermon of exhortation. The chiefest remedy left to your Honors, and to us, in all this rarity of true ministers, is fervent prayer unto God, that it will please his mercy to thrust out faithful workmen in this his harvest. And next, that your Honors with consent of the Church, are bound by your authority to compel such men as have gifts and graces able to edify the Church of God, that they bestow them where greatest necessity shall be known. For no man may be permitted to live idle, or as themselves list. But must be appointed to travail where your wisdoms and the church shall think expedient: We cannot prescribe unto your Honors certain rules how that ye shall distribute the ministers and learned men, whom God hath already sent unto you. But hereof we are assured, that it greatly hindereth the progress of Christ’s Gospel within this poor realm, that some altogether abstract their labors from the Church, and others remain altogether in one place, the most part of them being idle. And therefore of your Honors we require in God’s name, that by your authority, which ye have of God, ye compel all men to whom God hath given any Talent to persuade by wholesome doctrine, to bestow the same, if they be called by the church to the advancement of Christ’s glory, and the comfort of his troubled flock. And that ye with the consent of the church, assign unto your chiefest workmen, not only towns to remain in, but also provinces, that by their faithful labors, churches may be erected, and order established where none is now. And if on this manner ye shall use your power and authority, chiefly seeking God’s glory, and the comfort of your brethren, we doubt not but God shall blesse you and your enterprises.
TO the Churches where no ministers can be had presently, must be appointed the most apt men that distinctly can read the common prayers & the Scriptures, to exercise both themselves and the Church, till they grow to greater perfection, and in process of time, he that is but a reader, may attain to a farther degree, and by consent of the Church, and discreet ministers, may be permitted to minister the Sacraments, but not before that he be able somewhat to persuade by wholesome doctrine, beside his reading, and be admitted to the Ministry, as before is said. Some we know that of long time have professed Christ Jesus, whose honest conversation deserveth praise of all godly men, and whose knowledge also might greatly help the simple, and yet they only content themselves with reading, these must be animated, and by gentle admonition encouraged by some exhortation to comfort their brethren and so they may be admitted to administration of the sacraments; but such readers as neither have had exercise, nor continuance in Christ’s true religion, must abstain from ministration of the sacraments, till they give declaration and witnessing of their honesty and further knowledge, that none be admitted to preach, but they that are qualified therefore, but rather be retained readers, and such as are preachers already, not found qualified therefore, by the superintendent, be placed to be readers.
The fifth head concerning the provision for the Ministers, and for the distribution of the rents and possessions justly appertaining to the Church.
Seeing that of our master Christ Jesus, and his Apostle Paul we have, that the workman is worthy of his reward, and that the mouth of the laboring ox ought not to be muzzled, of necessity it is, that honest provision be made for the ministers, which we require to be such, that they have neither occasion of solicitude, neither yet of insolency and wantonness. And this provision must be made not only for their own sustentation, during their lives: but also for their wives and children after them. For we judge it a thing most contrarious to reason, godliness and equity, that the widow and the children of him who in his life, did faithfully serve in the kirk of God, and for that cause did not carefully make provision for his family, should after his death be left comfortless of all provision: which provision for the wives of the ministers after their decease is to be remitted to the discretion of the kirk. Difficile it is to appoint a several stipend to every minister, by reason that the charge and necessity of all, will not be alike. For some will be continuers in one place, some will be compelled to travel, and oft to change their dwelling place (if they shall have charge of divers kirks) among these some will be burdened with wife & children, and one with more than others, & some perhaps will be single men. If equal stipends should be appointed to these that in charge should be so unequal, either should the one suffer penury, or else should the other have superfluity and too much. We judge therefore that every minister have sufficient whereupon to keep an house, and be sustained honestly in all things necessary as well for keeping of his house and clothes, flesh, fish, books, fuel, and other things necessary, of the rents and treasury of the kirk at the discretion of the Congregation conform to the quality of the person and necessity of the time: Wherein it is thought good that every Minister shall have at least forty bolls meal, twenty six bolls malt, to find his house bread and drink, and more so much as the discretion of the Church finds necessary; besides money for buying of other provision to his house and other necessaries: the modification whereof is referred to the judgement of the Kirk, to be made every year at the choosing of the Elders and Deacons of the Kirk. Providing always that there be advanced to every Minister sufficient provision for a quarter of a year beforehand of all things. But to him that travels from place to place, whom we call Superintendent, who remains as it were a month or less in one place for establishing of the Kirk, and for the same purpose changing to another, must consideration be had. And therefore to such we think sixe chalders beer, nine chalders meal, three chalders oats, six hundreth merks money, to be eiked [added] and paired [diminished] at the discretion of the Prince and council of the Realm, to be payed to him in manner foresaid. The children of the Ministers, must have the liberties of the Cities next adjacent, where their fathers labored, freely granted. They must have the privileges in Schools, and bursars in Colleges; That is, that they shall be sustained at learning, if they be found apt thereto: And failing thereof, that they be put to some handy-craft, or exercised in some virtuous industry, whereby they may be profitable members of the Commonwealth, and the same we require of their daughters: To wit, that they be virtuously brought up, and honestly doted when they come to maturity of years at the discretion of the kirk. And this in God’s presence we witness we require not so much for ourselves, or for any that appertain to us, as that we do it for the increase of virtue and learning, and for the profit of the posterity to come. It is not to be supposed that any man will dedicate himself and his children so to God and to his Kirk, that they look for no worldly commodity, but this cankered nature which we bear, is provoked to follow virtue when it seeth profit and honor thereto annexed; and contrarily, then is virtue in many despised, when virtuous and godly men are without honor: and sorry would we be that poverty should discourage men from study, and following of the way of virtue, by which they might edify the Kirk and flock of Christ Jesus. Nothing have we spoken of the stipend of Readers, because if they can do nothing but read, they neither can be called nor judged true Ministers, and yet regard must be had to their labors; but so that they may be spurred forward to virtue, and not by any stipend appointed for their reading to be retained in that estate. To a Reader therefore that is newly entered, forty merks, or more or less, as Parishioners and Readers can agree, is sufficient: Provided that he teach the children of the Parish, which he must doe, beside the reading of the common prayers, and books of the old and new Testament. If from reading he begin to exhort, and explain the Scriptures, then ought his stipend to be augmented, till finally he come to the honor of a Minister. But if he be found unable after two years, then must he be removed from that office, and discharged of all stipend, that another may be proved as long. For this always is to be avoided, that none who is judged unable to come at any time to some reasonable knowledge whereby he may edify the Kirk, shall be perpetually sustained upon the charge of the Kirk. Farther it must be avoided, that no child, nor person within age, that is within twenty one years of age, be admitted to the office of a Reader. But Readers ought to be endued with gravity and discretion, lest by their lightness the prayers or Scriptures read be of less price or estimation. It is to be noted that the Reader be put in the Kirk at the admission of the Superintendent. The other sort of Readers, who have long continued in godliness, and have some gift of exhortation, who are of hope to attain to the degree of a Minister, and teach the children; we think an hundred merks, or more or less, at the discretion of the kirk, may be appointed; so that difference be made, as said is, betwixt them and the Ministers, that openly preaches the word and ministers the Sacraments.
Rests yet two sorts of people to be provided for, upon that which is called the Patrimony of the kirk, to wit, the poor, and teachers of the youth. Every several Kirk must provide for the poor within it self: For fearful and horrible it is, that the poor, whom not only God the Father in his Law, but Christ Jesus in his Evangel, and the holy Spirit speaking by S. Paul hath so earnestly commended to our care; are universally so contemned and despised. We are not Patrons for stubborn and idle beggars, who running from place to place make a craft of their begging, whom the Civil Magistrate ought to punish. But for the widow and fatherless, the aged, impotent or lamed, who neither can nor may travail for their sustentation; we say that God commands his people to be careful, and therefore for such, as also for persons of honesty fallen into decay and poverty, ought such provision to be made, that of our abundance their indigence might be relieved. How this most conveniently, and most easily may be done in every City, and other parts of this Realm, God will shew you wisdom, and the means, so that your minds be godly inclined thereto. All must not be suffered to beg, that gladly would so doe, neither yet must beggars remain where they would; but the stout and strong beggars must be compelled to work; and every person that may not work, must be compelled to repair to the place where he or she was borne, unless of long continuance they have remained in one place, and there be reasonable provision must be made for sustentation as the Kirk shall appoint. The order nor sums in our judgements cannot particularly be appointed unto such times as the poor of every City, Town and Parish be compelled to repair to the places where they were borne, or of their residence, where their names and number must be taken and put in roll, and then may the wisdom of the Kirk appoint stipends accordingly.
The Head of the Superintendents.
Because we have appointed a larger stipend to them that shall be Superintendents then to the rest of the Ministers, we have thought good to signify to your Honors such reasons as moved us to make difference betwixt Preachers at this time, as also how many Superintendents we think necessary, with their bounds, office, election and causes that may deserve deposition from that charge.
We consider that if the Ministers whom God hath endowed with his singular graces amongst us should be appointed to several places there to make their continual residence, that then the greatest part of the Realm should be destitute of all doctrine; which should not only be the occasion of great murmur, but also be dangerous to the salvation of many. And therefore we have thought it a thing most expedient at this time, that from the whole number of godly & learned men, now presently in this realm, be selected ten or twelve (for in so many Provinces we have divided the whole) to whom charge and commandment should be given, to plant and erect Kirks, to set, order, and appoint Ministers, as the former order prescribes, to the Countries that shall be appointed to their care where none are now. And by their means, your love and common care over all Inhabitants of this Realm, to whom you are equally debtors, shall evidently appear; as also the simple and ignorant, who perchance have never heard Jesus Christ truly preached, shall come to some knowledge: By the which many that are dead in superstition and ignorance, shall attain to some feeling of godliness, by the which they may be provoked to search and seek farther knowledge of God, and his true Religion and worshipping: where by the contrary, if they shall be neglected, then shall they not only grudge, but also seek the means whereby they may continue in their blindness, or return to their accustomed Idolatry; and therefore nothing we desire more earnestly then that Christ Jesus be universally once preached throughout this Realm, which shall not suddenly be, unless that by you, men be appointed, and compelled, faithfully to travail in such Provinces as to them shall be assigned.
The names of the places of residence and several Dioceses of the Superintendents.
Imprimis, The Superintendent of Orkney, whose Diocese shall comprehend the Iles Orkney, Shetland, and Caithness, and Strathnaver, his residence to be in Kirkwall.
The Superintendent of Ross, whose Diocese shall comprehend Ross, Sutherland, Murray, with the north Iles of the Skye, and Lewes with the adjacents: his residence to be in the Canonry of Ross.
The Superintendent of Argyle, whose Diocese shall comprehend Argyle, Kintyre, Lorne, the south Isles, Arran and Bute with their adjacents, with Lochaber: his residence to be in Argyle.
The Superintendent of Aberdeen, whose Diocese is betwixt Dee and Spay containing the Sheriffdom of Aberdeen and Banff: whose residence shall be in old Aberdeen.
The Superintendent of Brechin, whose Diocese shall be the whole Sheriffdoms of the Mearns, Angus, and the brae of Marr to Dee: his residence to be in Brechin.
The Superintendent of Saint Andrews, whose Diocese shall comprehend the whole Sheriffdom of Fife and Fotheringham to Stirling, and the whole Sheriffdom of Perth: his residence to be in Saint Andrews.
The Superintendent of Edinburgh, whose Diocese shall comprehend the whole Sheriffdom of Lothian and Stirling, and the South side of the water of Forth: his residence to be in Edinburgh.
The Superintendent of Jedburgh, whose Diocese shall comprehend the whole Tiviotdale, Tweeddale, Liddisdale, and thereto is added by consent of the whole Kirk, the Merse, Lawderdale and Weddale, with the forest of Ettrick: his residence to be in Jedburgh.
The Superintendent of Glasgow, whose Diocese shall comprehend Clydesdale, Renfrew, Menteith, Lennox, Kyle and Cunningham: his residence to be in Glasgow.
The Superintendent of Dumfries, whose Diocese shall comprehend Galloway, Carrick, Nithisdale, Annandale with the rest of the dales in the west: his residence to be in Dumfries.
Those men must not be suffered to live as your idle Bishops have done heretofore: neither must they remain where gladly they would, but they must be preachers themselves, and such as may not make long residence in any place till their Kirks be planted and provided of Ministers, or at the least of Readers. Charge must be given to them that they remain in no place above twenty [or thirty] days in their visitation, till they have passed through their whole bounds. They must thrice every week preach at the least; and when they return to their principal Town and Residence, they must be likewise exercised in preaching and edification of the Kirk: and yet they must not be suffered to continue there so long, that they may seem to neglect their other kirks: But after they have remained in their chief town three or four months at most, they shall be compelled (unless by sickness they be retained) to re-enter in visitation. In which they shall not only preach, but also examine the life, diligence and behavior of the Ministers, as also the order of the kirks, the manners of the people. They must further consider how the poor be provided, how the youth be instructed: They must admonish where admonition needeth, and dress such things as by good counsel they be able to appease. And finally they must note such crimes as be heinous, that by the censure of the Kirk the same may be corrected. If the Superintendent be found negligent in any of the chief points of his office, & specially if he be noted negligent in preaching of the word, and visitation of the Kirks; or if he be convict of such crimes, which in common Ministers are damned, he must be deposed, without respect of his person, or office.
The Election of Superintendents.
IN this present necessity, the nomination, examination, and admission of the Superintendent, cannot be so straight, as we require, and as afterward it must be. For this present, therefore we think it expedient, that either your Honors by your selves nominate so many as may serve the fore-written Provinces: or that ye give commission to such men as ye suppose the fear of God to be in, to do the same. And the same men being called in your presence shall be by you, & such as your Hon: pleases call unto you for consultation in that case, appointed to their Provinces. We think it expedient, and necessary, that as well the Gentlemen, as Burgess of every diocese be made privy at the same time to the election of the superintendent; as well to bring the kirk in some practice of her liberty, as that the Pastor may be the better favored of the flock whom themselves have chosen. If your Honors cannot find for this present so many able as necessity requireth, then in our judgements more profitable it is those Provinces vaik [remain vacant] till God provide better for them, then that men unable to edify and govern the Kirk, so suddenly be placed in that charge; for experience hath taught us what pestilence hath been engendered in the Kirk by men unable to discharge their Offices. When therefore after three years any Superintendent shall depart, or chance to be deposed, the chief Town within the Province, to wit, the Ministers, Elders and Deacons, with the Magistrate and Council of the same Towne, shall nominate, and by public Edicts proclaim, as well to the Superintendent, as to two or three Provinces next adjacent, two or three of the most learned and godly Ministers within the whole Realm, that from amongst them, one with public consent, may be elected and appointed to the office then vacant: And this the chief town shall be bound to doe within the space of twenty days; which being expired, and no man presented, then shall three of the next adjacent Provinces with consent of their Superintendents, Ministers and Elders, enter in the right and privilege of the Town, and shall present every one of them, one or two, if they list [desire], to the chief Town to be examined, as the order requires. As also it shall be lawful, for all the kirks of the Diocese to nominate within the same time such persons as they think worthy to stand in Election, who all must be put in an Edict.
After nomination to be made, public Edicts must be sent forth, warning all men that have any exception against the persons nominate, or against any of them, to be present in the chief Town at the day affixed, and place, to object what they can against the election of any of them. Thirty days we think sufficient to be assigned thereto. Thirty days we mean after the nomination be made; which day of the election being come, the whole Ministers of the Province, with three or four Superintendents next adjacent, or that shall be thereto nominated shall examine, not only the learning, but also the manners, prudence and ability to govern the Kirk, of all these that be nominated: that he who shall be found most worthy may be burdened with the charge. If the Ministers of the whole Provinces should bring with them the votes of them that were committed to their care, the election should be the more free. But always the votes of them that convene, should be required. The examinations must be publicly made. They that stand in election must publicly preach, and men must be charged in the name of God, to vote according to conscience, and not after affection.
If anything be objected against him that standeth in election, the Superintendents and Ministers must consider whether the objection be made of conscience or malice, and they must answer accordingly. Other ceremonies then sharp examination, approbation of the ministers, and Superintendents, with the public consent of the Elders and people, we cannot allow.
The Superintendent being elected, and appointed to his charge, must be subject to the censure and correction of ministers and Elders, not of his chief town only, but also of the whole Province, over the which he is appointed overseer.
If his offence be known, and the ministers and Elders of the town and Province be negligent in correcting of him, then the next one or two Superintendents with their ministers and Elders, may convene him, and the ministers and Elders of his chief town (provided that it be within his own province or chief town) may accuse or correct as well the Superintendent in these things that are worthy of correction, as the ministers and Elders of their negligence and ungodly tolerance of his offence.
Whatsoever crime deserves deposition or correction of any other minister, deserveth the same in the Superintendent, without exception of persons.
After that the Kirk is established, and three years be passed, we require that no man be called to the office of a Superintendent, who hath not at the least two years given declaration of his faithful labors in the ministry of the same Kirk.
No Superintendent may be transferred at the pleasure or request of any one province, no not without the consent of the whole council of the Kirk, and that for grave causes and considerations.
Of one thing in the end we must admonish your Honors, to wit, that in the appointing of the Superintendents for this present, ye disappoint not your chief towns, and where learning is exercised, of such ministers as more may profit by residence in one place, then by continual travel from place to place. For if ye so doe, the youth in these places shall lack the profound interpretation of Scripture: and so shall it be long before your garden send forth many plants; where by the contrary, if one or two towns be continually exercised as they may, the Commonwealth shall shortly feast of their fruit, to the comfort of the godly.
For the Schools.
Seeing that the office and duty of the godly Magistrate, is not only to purge the Church of God from all superstition, and to set it at liberty from tyranny and bondage, but also to provide at the utmost of his power, how it may abide in some purity in the posterity following, we can but freely communicate our judgments with your Honors in this behalf.
The necessity of Schools.
Seeing that God hath determined that his Kirk here in earth shall be taught not by Angels, but by men; and seeing that men are borne ignorant of God, and of all godliness, and seeing also he ceases to illuminate men miraculously, suddenly charging them as he did the Apostles, and others in the primitive kirk: Of necessity it is that your Honors be most careful for the virtuous education, and godly up-bringing of the youth of this realm: if either ye now thirst unfeignedly the advancement of Christ’s glory, or yet desire the continuance of his benefits to the generation following. For as the youth must succeed to us, so we ought to be careful that they have knowledge and erudition to profit and comfort that which ought to be most dear to us, to wit, the kirk and spouse of our Lord Jesus. Of necessity therefore we judge it, that every several kirk have one Schoolmaster appointed, such a one at least as is able to teach Grammar, and the Latin tongue, if the town be of any reputation. If it be upland [rural] where the people convene to the doctrine but once in the week, then must either the reader or the minister there appointed, take care over the children and youth of the parish, to instruct them in the first rudiments, and especially in the Catechism as we have it now translated in the book of the common order called the order of Geneva. And further we think it expedient, that in every notable town, and specially in the town of the Superintendent, there be erected a College, in which the arts at least Logic and Rhetoric, together with the tongues, be read by sufficient masters, for whom honest stipends must be appointed. As also provision for those that be poor, and not able by themselves, nor by their friends to be sustained at letters, and in special these that come from Landward. The fruit and commodity hereof shall suddenly appear. For first, the youth-head and tender children shall be nourished, and brought up in virtue in presence of their friends, by whose good attendance many inconveniences may be avoided, in which the youth commonly fall, either by overmuch liberty, which they have in strange and unknown places, while they cannot rule themselves: or else for lack of good attendance, and such necessity as their tender age requires. Secondly, the exercise of children in every kirk, shall be great instruction to the aged. Last, the great Schools, called the universities, shall be replenished with these that shall be apt to learning. For this must be carefully provided, that no father of what estate or condition that ever he be, use his children at his own fantasy, especially in their youth, but all must be compelled to bring up their children in learning and virtue.
The rich and potent may not be permitted to suffer their children to spend their youth in vain idleness as heretofore they have done: But they must be exhorted, and by the censure of the Kirk compelled to dedicate their sons by good exercises to the profit of the Kirk, and Common-wealth; and that they must doe of their own expenses because they are able. The children of the poor must be supported and sustained of the charge of the Kirk, trial being taken whether the spirit of docility be in them found, or not: If they be found apt to learning and letters, then may they not (we mean, neither the sons of the rich, nor yet of the poor) be permitted to reject learning, but must be charged to continue their study, so that the Common-wealth may have some comfort by them. And for this purpose must discreet, grave, & learned men be appointed to visit Schools for the trial of their exercise, profit and continuance: To wit, the Minister and Elders, & the rest of learned men in every town shall in every quarter make examination how the youth have profited.
And certain times must be appointed to reading and learning of the Catechism, and certain to the Grammar and to the Latin tongues, and a certain to the Arts of Philosophy, and the tongues; and certain to that study in the which they intend chiefly to travail for the profit of the Common-wealth. Which time being expired, we mean in every course, the children should either proceed to farther knowledge, or else they must be set to some handy craft, or to some other profitable exercise; providing always that first they have further knowledge of Christian Religion: To wit, the knowledge of God’s Law and Commandments, the use and office of the same: the chief Articles of the belief, the right form to pray unto God; the number, use, and effect of the Sacraments: the true knowledge of Christ Jesus, of his Office and Natures, and such others, without the knowledge whereof neither any man deserves to be called a Christian, neither ought any to be admitted to the participation of the Lord’s Table: and therefore these principles ought and must be learned in the youth-head.
The Times appointed to every course.
Two years we think more than sufficient to learn to read perfectly, to answer to the Catechism, and to have some entry in the first rudiments of Grammar to the full accomplishment whereof (we mean of the Grammar) we think other three years or four at most sufficient to the Arts, to wit, Logic & Rhetoric, and to the Greek tongue 4 years, and the rest till the age of 24 years, to be spent in that study, wherein the learner would profit the Church, or commonwealth, be it in the laws, physic [medicine], or divinity; which time of 24. years being spent in the Schools, the learner must be removed to serve the Church or commonwealth, unless he be found a necessary reader in this same College or University. If God shall move your hearts to establish & execute this order, and put these things in practice, your whole realm, we doubt not, within few years will serve it self of true preachers, & of other officers necessary for the commonwealth.
Of the erection of Universities.
The Grammar School being erected, and of the tongues (as we have said) next we think it necessary there be 3 Universities in this whole realm, established in 3 towns accustomed. The first in S. Andrews, the second in Glasgow, & the third in Aberdeen. And in the first University & principal, viz. S. Andrews, that there be 3. colleges, and in the first college, which is the entry, of the University, there be 4. classes, or seages [grades], the first to the new Supposts [members], shall be only Dialecticæ, next only Mathematicæ, the third of physic only, the fourth of medicine. And in the second college, two classes, or seages, the first of Moral philosophy, the second of the laws. And in the third college two classes or seages, the first of the tongues, to wit, Greek & Hebrew, the 2 of divinity.
Of Readers, and of the degrees and time of study.
Item, in the first college and first class, shall be a reader of Dialectica, who shall accomplish his course thereof in a year. In Mathematica, which is the second class, shall be a reader which shall complete his course of Arithmetic, Geometry, Cosmography, & Astrology [i.e., astronomy] in one year. In the third class shall be a reader of natural philosophy, who shall complete his course in one year. And who after these 3. years by trial and examination, shall be found sufficiently instructed in the foresaid sciences, shall be Laureate, and Graduate in philosophy. In the fourth class, shall be a reader of Medicine, who shall complete his course in 5 years, after the study of the which time, being by examination found sufficient, they shall be graduate in medicine.
Item, in the second college, in the first class, one reader only in the Ethics, Economics, and Politicks, who shall complete his course in the space of one year. In the second class shall be two readers in the Municipal and Roman laws, who shall complete his course in 4 years, after which time being by examination being found sufficient, they shall be graduate in the laws.
Item, in the third college, in the first class, one reader of the Hebrew, and another of the Greek tongue, who shall complete the Grammar thereof in 3 months, and the remnant of the year, the reader of the Hebrew shall interpret one book of Moses, the Prophets or the Psalms, so that this course & class shall continue one year. The reader of the Greek shall interpret some book of Plato, together with some place of the new testament. In the second class shall be two readers in divinity, the one in the new Testament, the other in the old, who shall complete their course in five years: after which time, who shall be found by examination sufficient, they shall be graduate in divinity.
Item, we think expedient that none be admitted to the first college, and to bee Supposts of the university, unless he have from the master of the school, and minister of the town where he was instructed in the tongues, an testimony of his learning, docility, age and parentage: and likewise trial be taken by certain examinators, depute by the Rector and Principals of the same. And if he be found sufficiently instructed in the Dialectica, he shall incontinent the same year be promoted to the class of Mathematica.
Item, that none be admitted to the class of Medicine, but he that shall have his testimonial of his time well spent in Dialectica, Mathematica, and Physic, and of his docility in the last.
Item, that none be admitted unto the class of the laws, but he that shall have sufficient testimonials of his time well spent in Dialectica, Mathematica, Physica, Ethics, Economics, and Politicks, and of his docility in the last.
Item, that none be admitted unto the class & seage [grade] of divinity, but he that shall have sufficient testimonials of his time well spent in Dialectica, Mathematica, Physica, Ethica, Economica, and Politica, and the Hebrew tongue, and of his docility in the moral Philosophy, and the Hebrew tongue. But neither shall such as apply them to hear the laws, be compelled to hear medicine; neither such as apply them to hear divinity, be compelled to hear either Medicine or yet the laws.
Item, in the second University, which is Glasgow, shall be two colleges only: in the first shall be a class of Dialectica, another of Mathematica, the third of Physica, ordered in all sorts as S. Andrews.
Item, in the second, four classes, the first of Moral philosophy, Ethics, Economics, and Physic. The second of the Municipal and Roman laws. The third, of the Hebrew tongue. The fourth of divinity, which shall be ordered in all sorts to that we have written in the order of the University of S. Andrews.
The third University of Aberdeen shall be conform to this University of Glasgow in all sorts.
Item, we think needful that there be chosen of the body of the University to every College, a principal man of learning, discretion and diligence, who shall receive the whole rents of the College, and distribute the same according to the erection of the College, and shall daily hearken the diet counts, adjoining to him weekly one of the readers or regents, above whom he shall take attendance upon their diligence, as well in their reading as exercising of the youth in the matter taught upon the policy and uphold of the place, and for punishment of crimes shall hold a weekly convention with the whole members of the College. He shall be countable yearly to the Superintendent, Rector, and the principals convened, about the first of November. His election shall be in this sort. There shall be three of the most sufficient men of the University (not principals already nominate by the members of the College) sworn to follow their consciences whose Principal is departed, and publicly proponed through the whole University, after the which time 8 days, by the Superintendent himself, or his special Procurator, with the Rector, & the rest of the principals, as a chapter, convenient, shall confirm one of the three they think most sufficient, being before sworn to do the same with a single eye but [without] respect to feud or favor.
Item, In every College we think needful at least, a steward, a cook, a gardener, and Porter, who shall be subject to discipline of the principal, as the rest.
Item, That every University have a beadle [caretaker] subject to serve at all times throughout the whole University, as the Rector and Principal shall command.
Item, that every University have a Rector chosen from year to year as shall follow, The Principals being convened with the whole Regents chapterly shall be sworn that every man in his room shall nominate such a one as his conscience shall testify to be most sufficient to bear such charge and dignity: and three of them that shall be oftest nominated shall be put in edict publicly 15 days before Michaelmas, and then shall on Michaelmas even convene the whole principals, regents and supposts, that are graduate, or at the least studied their time in Ethics, economics, and politics and no others younger, and every one first protest in God’s presence to follow the sincere ditement [direction] of their conscience shall nominate of the three, and he that hath most votes shall be confirmed by the Superintendent and Principals, & his duty with an exhortation proponed unto him, and this to be the 28 day of September, and thereafter trial to be taken hinc inde of his just & godly government, & of the rests lawful submission and obedience he shall be propined [presented] by the university at his entry with a new garment, bearing insignia Magistratus, and be holden monthly to visit every College, and with his presence décor [decorate] and examine the lections [lectures] and exercise thereof. His assessors shall be a lawyer and a theologian, with whose advice he shall decide all questions civil betwixt the members of the University. If any without the University pursue a member thereof, or he be pursued by a member of the same, he shall assist the provost and baillies in these cases, or other Judges competent, to see justice be ministered: In likewise, if any of the university be criminally pursued, he shall assist the Judges competent, and see that justice be ministered.
Item, We think expedient that in every college in every University, there be 24 bursars [holders of scholarships], divided equally in all the classes and seages [grades] as is above expressed, that is, in S. Andrews 72 bursars, in Glasgow 48 bursars, in Aberdeen 48 to be sustained only in meat upon the charges of the College, and to be admitted at the examination of the Ministry and chapter of the principals in the University, as well in the docility of the persons offered, as of the ability of their parents to sustain them themselves, and not to burden the Common-wealth with them.
Of the Stipends and expenses necessary.
Item, we think expedient that the Universities be doted [endowed] with temporal lands, with rents and revenues of the Bishoprics temporality, and of the Kirks collegiate so far as their ordinary charges shall require, and therefore that it would please your Hon: by advice of your Hon. Coun. and vote of Parliam. to do the same, And to the effect the same may be shortly expedited, we have recollected the sums we think necessary for the same.
Imprimis, for the ordinary stipend of the dialectician Reader, the Mathematician, Physician and moral Philosopher, we think sufficient an hundred pounds for every one of them.
Item, for the stipend of every Reader in Medicine and Lawes, a hundreth thirty three pounds 6. s. 8. d.
Item, to every Reader in Hebrew Greek and Divinity, 200 p.
Item, to every principal of a College 200 pounds.
Item, to every steward 16 pounds.
Item, to every gardener, to every cook and porter to ilk [each] one of them ten merks.
Item, to the board [stipend for living] of every bursar without the class of Theolo. 20. pounds.
Item, in the class of Theology, which will be only 12 persons in S. Andrews. 24. p.
Sum of yearly and ordinary expenses in the University of S. Andrews. 3976. p.
Sum of yearly & ordinary expenses of Glasgow, 2922 pound.
Aberdeen as much.
Sum of the ordinary charges of the whole
Item, the Beadles stipend shall be of every entrant and suppost of the University 2 shillings, of every one graduate in Philosophy 3 shillings, of every one graduate in medicine or laws, 4 shillings, in Theology 5 shillings, all bursars being excepted.
Item, we have thought good for building and upholding of the places, a general collect be made, and that every Earl’s son at his entry to the university, shall give 40 shil. and likewise at every graduation 40 shil. Item, each Lord’s son likewise at such time, 30 shil. each freeholding Baron’s son 20 shil. every feuar [landlord] and substantious Gentleman’s son 1 mark. Item, every substantious husband and burgess son, at each time 10 shil. Item, every one of the rest, not excepting the bursars, 5 shil. at each time. And that this be gathered in a common box, put in keeping to the principal of the Theologians, every principal having a key thereof, to be counted each year once with the rest of principals to be laid in the same, about the 15 day of Nov. in presence of the Superintendent, Rector and whole principals, and with their whole consent, or at least the most part of them referred, & employed only upon the building & upholding of the places, and repairing of the same, ever as necessity shall require. And therefore the Rector with his assistants, shall be holden to visit the places each year once, incontinent after he be promoted upon the last of October, or thereby.
Of the privileges of the University.
Seeing we desire that Innocency should defend us rather than privilege, we think that each person of the university should answer before the provost and Bailiffs of each town where the Universities are, of all crimes whereof they are accused, only that the Rector be assessor to them in the said actions. In civil matters, if the question be betwixt members of the university, one each side, making their residence & exercise therein for the time in that case the party called shall not be holden to answer but only before the Rector and his assessors heretofore expressed. In all other cases of civil pursuit, the general rule of the law to be observed, actor sequatur forum rei. &c.
Item, that the Rector and all inferior members of the university be exempted from all taxations, imposts, charges of war, or any other charge that may onerate [burden] or abstract him or them from the care of his office, such as tutory, curatory, or any such like that are established, or hereafter shall be established in our common-weal, to the effect that (without trouble) they may wait on the upbringing of the youth in learning, and bestow their time only in that most necessary exercise.
All other things touching the books to be read in ilk [each] class, and all such like particular affaires we refer to the discretion of the Masters, Principals and Regents, with their well-advised counsel; not doubting but if God shall grant quietness, and give your Wisdoms grace to set forward letters in the sort prescribed, ye shall leave wisdom and learning to your posterity, a treasure more to be esteemed then any earthly treasure, ye are able to amass for them, which without wisdom are more able to be their ruin and confusion, then help and comfort. And as this is most true, so we leave it with the rest of the commodities to be weighed by your honors’ wisdom, and set forwards by your authority to the most high advancement of this Common-wealth committed to your charge.
The sixth head of the Rents and Patrimony of the Church.
These two sorts of men, that is to say, Ministers, and the poor, together with the Schools, when order shall be taken thereanent, must be sustained upon the charges of the Kirk; and therefore provision must be made how, and by whom such sums must be lifted. But before we enter in this head, we must crave of your Honors, in the name of the eternal God, and of his Son Christ Jesus, that ye have respect to your poor brethren, the Laborers and Manurers of the ground; who by these cruel beasts the Papists have before been oppressed, that their life to them hath been dolorous and bitter. If ye will have God author and approver of this reformation, ye must not follow their foot-steps, but ye must have compassion of your brethren, appointing them to pay reasonable teinds [tithes], that they may find some benefit of Christ Jesus now preach unto them.
With the grief of our hearts we hear, that some Gentlemen are now as cruel over their tenants, as ever were the Papists, requiring of them whatsoever they afore payed to the Kirk, so that the Papistical tyranny shall only be changed into the tyranny of the lord & laird. We dare not flatter your Honors, neither yet is it profitable for you that we so doe. If we permit cruelty to be used, neither shall ye, who by your authority ought to gainstand such oppression, nor yet they that use the same escape God’s heavy and fearful judgements. The Gentlemen, Barons, Earls, Lords and others, must be content to live upon their just rents, and suffer the Kirk to be restored to her liberty; that in her restitution, the poor, who heretofore by the cruel Papists have been spoiled and oppressed, may now receive some comfort and relaxation, that their teinds and other exactions be clean discharged, and no more taken in times coming. The uppermost cloth [i.e., bed covering, or some other article, of the deceased as mortuary fee], corpse-present [i.e., a gift to insure deliverance from purgatory]; clerk-mail, the Pasche [i.e., Easter] offering, teind-ale and all handlings upland, can neither be required nor received of good conscience.
Neither do we judge it to proceed of justice, that any man should possess the teinds of another, but we think it a most reasonable thing that every man have the use of his own teinds, provided that he answer to the Deacons and Treasurers of the Kirk, of that which justice shall be appointed to him. We require the Deacons and Treasurers rather to receive the rents, then the Ministers themselves; because that of the teinds must not only the Minister be sustained, but also the poor and schools. And therefore we think it expedient that common Treasurers: to wit, the Deacons be appointed from year to year, to receive the whole rents appertaining to the Kirk, and that commandment be given that none be permitted either to receive or yet to intromit with anything appertaining to the sustentation of the persons foresaid, but such as by common consent of the Kirk are thereto appointed.
If any think this prejudicial to the tax and assedations [leases] of them that now possess the teinds, Let them understand that their unjust possession is no possession before God; for they of whom they received their title, and presupposed right or warrant, were thieves and murderers, and had no power so to alienate the patrimony, and common good of the Kirk. And yet we are not so extreme but that we wish just recompense to be made to such as have disbursed sums of money to the unjust possessors, so that it hath not bene done of late days in prejudice of the Kirk. But such as are found and known to be done of plain collusion, in no ways ought to be maintained by you: And for that purpose we think it most expedient that whosoever have assedation of teinds and kirks, be openly warned to produce their assedation and assurance, that cognition being taken, the just taxmen may have the just and reasonable recompense for the years that are to run, the profit of the years past being considered and deduced, and the unjust and surmised may be served accordingly, so that the kirk in the end may receive her liberty and freedom, and that only for the relief of the poor. Your Honors may easily understand that we speak not now for our selves, but in favor of the Laborers defrauded and oppressed by the priests, and by their confederate pensioners; for while that the Priests Pensioner his idle belly is delicately fed, the poor, to whom the portion of that appertains, was pined with hunger, and moreover the true laborer was compelled to pay that which he ought not. For the laborer is neither debtor to the dumb dog, called the Bishop, neither yet to his hired pensioner, but is debtor only to the kirk. And the kirk is bound to sustain and nourish of her charges, the persons before mentioned, to wit, the Ministers of the word, the poor, and the teachers of the youth. But now to return to the former head. The sums able to sustain the forenamed persons, and to furnish all things appertaining to the preservation of good order and policy within the kirk, must be lifted off the tenths, to wit, the tenth sheaf, hay, hemp, lint, fishes, tenth calf, tenth lamb, tenth wool, tenth foal, tenth cheese. And because that we know that the tenth reasonably taken as is before expressed, will not suffice to discharge the former necessity: we think that all things doted to hospitality, and annual rents both in burgh and land, pertaining to the Priests, Chantry Colleges, Chaplainries, and the Friaries of all orders, to the sisters of the Sienine, and such others be retained still in the use of the kirk or kirks within the Townes and parishes where they were doted. Furthermore, to the upholding of the Universities, and sustentation of the Superintendents. the whole revenue of the temporality of the Bishops, Deans, and Archdeans’ lands, and of all rents of lands pertaining to the Cathedral kirks whatsoever. And further, merchants & rich craftsmen in free Burghs, having nothing to do with the manuring of the ground, must take some provision of their cities, towns, and dwelling places for to support the need of the kirk.
To the ministers, and failing thereof, the readers, must be restored their Manses & Gleibs, for else they cannot serve the flock at all times, as their duty is. If any Gleib exceed six acres of ground, the rest to remain in the hands of the possessors, till order be taken therein.
The receivers and collectors of these rents and duties, must be Deacons or Treasurers appointed from year to year in every kirk, and by the common consent, and free election of the kirk. The Deacons must distribute no part of that which is collected, but by command of the ministers and Elders. And that they may command nothing to be delivered, but as the kirk hath before determined, to wit, the Deacons shall of the first part pay the sums either quarterly, or from half year to half year, to the ministers, which the kirk hath appointed. The same they shall doe to the Schoolmasters, Readers, and Hospital, if any be, receiving always an acquitance for their discharge. If any extraordinary sums be to be delivered, then must the Ministers, Elders, and Deacons, consult whether the deliverance of such sums, doth stand with the common utility of the kirk, or not. And if they do universally condescend and agree upon the affirmative or negative, then because they are in credit and office for the year, they may do as best seems; but if there be any controversy amongst themselves, the whole Kirk must be made privy, and after that the matter be proponed, and the reasons; the judgment of the Kirk with the Ministers consent shall prevail. The Deacons shall be compelled and bound to make accounts to the Minister and Elders of that which they received, as oft as the policy shall appoint: and the Elders, when they are changed (which must be every year) must clear their counts before such auditors as the Kirk shall appoint: and both the Deacons and Elders being changed shall deliver to them that shall be new elected, all sums of money, corns and other profits resting in their hands: The tickets whereof must be delivered to the Superintendents in their visitation, and by them to the great council of the Kirk; that as well the abundance as the indigence, of every kirk may be evidently known, that a reasonable equality may be had throughout this whole Realm. If this order be perfectly kept, corruption cannot suddenly enter. For the free and yearly election of Deacons and Elders shall suffer none to usurp a perpetual domination over the Kirk, the knowledge of the rental shall suffer them to receive no more, then whereof they shall be bound to make accounts: the deliverance of money to the new officers shall not suffer private men use in their private business, that which appertains to the public affaires of the Kirk.
The seventh head of Ecclesiastical Discipline.
AS that no Common-wealth can flourish, or long endure, without good laws and sharp execution of the same; so neither can the Kirk of God be brought to purity, neither yet retained in the same without the order of Ecclesiastical Discipline, which stands in reproving and correcting of the faults, which the civil sword either doth neglect, or not punish: Blasphemy, adultery, murder, perjury, and other crimes capital, worthy of death, ought not properly to fall under censure of the Kirk; because all such open transgressors of God’s laws, ought to be taken away by the civil sword. But drunkenness, excess, be it in apparel, or be it in eating and drinking, fornication, oppressing of the poor by exactions, deceiving of them in buying and selling by wrong met and measure, wanton words and licentious living tending to slander, doe openly appertain to the kirk of God to punish them, as God’s word commands. But because this accursed Papistry hath brought in such confusion into the world, that neither was virtue rightly praised, neither yet vice severely punished, the kirk of God is compelled to draw the sword which of God she hath received, against such open and manifest condemners, cursing, and excommunicating all such, as well those whom the civil sword ought to punish, as the other, from all participation with her in prayers and Sacraments, till open repentance appear manifestly in them. As the order and proceeding to excommunication ought to be slow and grave, so being once pronounced against any person of what estate or condition that ever they be, it must be kept with all severity. For laws made and not kept, engender contempt of virtue, and brings in confusion and liberty to sin. And therefore this order we think expedient to be observed afore, and after excommunication. First, if the offence be secret or known to few men, and rather stands in suspicion then in manifest probation, the offender ought to be privately admonished, to abstain from all appearance of evil, which if he promise to do, and declare himself sober, honest, and one that fears God, and fears to offend his brethren, then may the secret admonition suffice for his correction. But if he either contemn the admonition, or after promise made do shew himself no more circumspect then he was before, then must the Minister admonish him, to whom if he be found inobedient they must proceed according to the rule of Christ, as after shall be declared. If the crime be public, and such as is heinous, as fornication, drunkenness, fighting, common swearing, or execration, then ought the offender to be called in presence of the Minister, Elders and Deacons, where his sin and trespass ought to be declared and aggreged [aggravated] so that his conscience may feel how far he hath offended God, and what slander he hath raised in the Kirk. If signs of unfeigned repentance appear in him, and if he require to be admitted to public repentance, the Minister may appoint unto him a day when the whole kirk convenes together, that in presence of all he may testify his repentance, which before he professed. Which if he accept, and with reverence confess his sin, doing the same, and earnestly desiring the Congregation to pray to God with him for mercy, and to accept him in their society notwithstanding the former offence: Then the Kirk may and ought to receive him as a penitent. For the Kirk ought to be no more severe, then God declares himself to be, who witnesses that in whatsoever hour a sinner unfeignedly repents, and turns from his wicked way, that he will not remember one of his iniquities. And therefore ought the Kirk diligently to advert that it excommunicate not those whom God absolves. If the offender called before the Ministry be found stubborn, hard-hearted, or in whom no sign of repentance appears, then must he be demitted with an exhortation to consider the dangerous estate in which he stands; assuring him that if they find in him no other tokens of amendment of life, that they will be compelled to seek a further remedy. If he within a certain space shew his repentance to the Ministry, they may present him to the Kirk, as before is said: If he continue not in his repentance, then must the Kirk be advertised, that such crimes are committed amongst them, which by the Ministry hath bene reprehended, and the persons provoked to repent, whereof because no signs appear unto them, they could not but signify unto the Kirk the crimes, but not the person: requiring them earnestly to call to God to move and touch the heart of the offender, so that suddenly and earnestly he may repent. If the person malign, the next day of public Assembly, the crime and the person must be both notified unto the Kirk, and their judgements must be required, if that such crimes ought to be suffered unpunished among them; request also should be made to the most discrete and nearest friend of the offender to travail with him to bring him to knowledge of himself, and of his dangerous estate, with a commandment given to all men to call to God for the conversion of the impenitent. If a solemn and special prayer were drawn for that purpose the thing should be more gravely done. The third Sunday the Minister ought to require, if the impenitent have declared any signs of repentance to one of the Ministry; and if he have, then may the Minister appoint him to be examined by the whole Ministry, either then instantly, or another day affixed to the Consistory: and if repentance appear, as well for his crime, as for his long contempt, then he may be presented to the Kirk, and make his confession to be accepted as before is said: But if no man signify his repentance, then ought he to be excommunicated, and by the mouth of the Minister, and consent of the Ministry, and commandment of the Kirk, must such a condemner be pronounced excommunicate from God, and from all society of the Kirk. After which sentence may no person (his wife and family only excepted) have any kind of conversation with him, be it in eating and drinking, buying and selling; yea, in saluting or talking with him, except that it be at commandment or license of the Ministry for his conversion, that he, by such means confounded, seeing himself abhorred of the godly and faithful, may have occasion to repent and so be saved. The sentence of excommunication must be published universally throughout the Realm, lest that any man should pretend ignorance. His children begotten and borne after that sentence, and before his repentance may not be admitted to Baptism, till either they be of age to require the same, or else that the mother, or some of his special friends, members of the Kirk, offer and present the child, abhorring and damning the iniquity, and obstinate contempt of the impenitent.
If any man should think it severe that the child should be punished for the iniquity of the father: let him understand that the Sacraments appertain to the faithful and their seed; but such as stubbornly contemn all godly admonition, and obstinately remain in their iniquity, cannot be accounted amongst the faithful.
The order for public Offenders.
WE have spoken nothing of them that commit horrible crimes, as murderers, manslayers, adulterers; for such, as we have said, the civil sword ought to punish to dead: But in case they be permitted to live, then must the kirk as is before said, draw the sword, which of God she hath received, holding them as accursed even in their very fact. The offender being first called, and order of the Kirk used against him in the same manner, as the persons for their obstinate impenitency are publicly excommunicate. So that the obstinate impenitent after the sentence of excommunication, and the murderer or adulterer stand in one case, as concerning the judgement of the Kirk. That is, neither of both may be received in the fellowship of the kirk to prayers or Sacraments (but to hearing the word they may) till first they offer themselves to the Ministry, humbly requiring the Ministers and Elders to pray to God for them, and also to be intercessors to the Kirk that they may be admitted to public repentance, & to the fruition of the benefits of Christ Jesus, distributed to the members of his body. If this request be humbly made, then may not the Ministers refuse to signify the same unto the Kirk, the next day of public preaching, the Minister giving exhortation to the kirk, to pray to God to perform the work which he appears to have begun, working in the heart of the offender, unfeigned repentance of his grievous crime & offence, and feeling of his great mercy by the operation of the holy Spirit. Thereafter one day ought publicly to be assigned unto him to give open profession of his offence & contempt, & so to make public satisfaction to the kirk of God: which day the offender must appear in presence of the whole Kirk, with his own mouth damning his own impiety, publicly confessing the same: Desiring God of his mercy & grace, & his Congregation, that it would please them to receive him in their society, as before is said. The Minister must examine him diligently whether he finds a hatred or displeasure of his sin, as well of his contempt, as of his crime: which if he confess, he must travail with him, to see what hope he hath of God’s mercies, & if he find him reasonably instructed in the knowledge of Christ Jesus, in the virtue of his death, then may the Minister comfort him with God’s infallible promises, and demand of the Kirk if they be content to receive that creature of God whom Satan before had drawn in his nets, in the society of their body, seeing that he declared himself penitent. Which if the Kirk grant, as they cannot justly deny the same, then ought the Minister in public prayer commend him to God, confess the sin of that offender before the whole Kirk, desiring mercy and grace for Christ Jesus sake. Which prayer being ended, the Minister ought to exhort the Kirk to receive that penitent brother in their favors, as they require God to receive themselves when they offend. And in sign of their consent, the Elders, and chief men of the Kirk, shall take the penitent by the hand, and one or two in the name of the rest shall kiss and embrace him with reverence and gravity, as a member of Christ Jesus. Which being done, the Minister shall exhort the received that he take diligent heed in times coming that Satan trap him not in such crimes, admonishing him that he will not cease to tempt and try by all means possible to bring him from that obedience which he hath given to God, and to the ordinance of Jesus Christ. The exhortation being ended, the Minister ought to give public thanks unto God for the conversion of their brother, and for all benefits which we receive of Christ Jesus, praying for the increase and continuance of the same. If the penitent after he hath offered himself unto the Ministry, or to the Kirk, be found ignorant of the principal points of our Religion, and chiefly in the Articles of Justification, and of the Office of Christ Jesus, then ought he to be exactly instructed before he be received. For a mocking of God it is to receive them to repentance, who know not wherein standeth their remedy, when they repent their sin.
Persons subject to Discipline.
TO Discipline, must all the estates within this Realm be subject, as well the Rulers, as they that are ruled: yea, and the Preachers themselves, as well as the poor within the Kirk: And because the eye and mouth of the Kirk ought to be most single, and irreprehensible, the life and conversation of the Minister ought to be diligently tried, whereof we shall speak after that we have spoken of the election of Elders and Deacons, who must assist the Minister in all public affairs of the Kirk.
The eight head touching the election of Elders and Deacons.
MEN of best knowledge in God’s word, and clearest life, men faithful and of most honest conversation that can be found in the kirk, must be nominate to be in election, and their names must be publicly read to the whole kirk by the minister, giving them advertisement, that from amongst them must be chosen Elders and Deacons. If any of these nominate be noted with public infamy, he ought to be repelled. For it is not seemly that the servant of corruption shall have authority to judge in the kirk of God.
If any man know other of better qualities within the kirk, then these that be nominate, let them be put in election, that the kirk may have the choice.
If the kirk be of smaller number then that Seniors and Deacons can be chosen from amongst them; then may they well be joined to the next adjacent kirks. For the plurality of kirks without ministers and order, shall rather hurt then edify.
The election of Elders & Deacons ought to be used every year once, which we judge to be most convenient at the first day of August, lest of long continuance of such officers, men presume upon the liberty of the kirk. It hurteth not that one be received in office more years then one, so that he be appointed yearly by common and free election, provided always, that the Deacons and Treasurers be not compelled to receive the office again for the space of 3 years.
How the votes and suffrages may be best received, so that every man may give his vote freely, every several kirk may take such order as best seems them.
The Elders being elected, must be admonished of their office, which is to assist the ministers in all public affaires of the kirk, to wit, in determining and judging causes, in giving admonition to the licentious liver, in having respect to the manners and conversation of all men within their charge. For by the gravity of the Seniors, the light & unbridled life of the licentious, must be corrected and bridled. Yea the Seniors ought to take heed to the like manners, diligence and study of their ministers. If he be worthy of admonition, they must admonish him; of correction, they must correct him: and if he be worthy of deposition, they with consent of the kirk, and Superintendent, may depose him, so that his crime deserve so. If a minister be light of conversation, by his Elders and Deacons he ought to be admonished. If he be negligent in study, or one that vaikes not upon [is careful about] his charge, or flock, or one that propones not faithful doctrine, he deserves sharper admonition & correction. To the which if he be found stubborn and inobedient, then may the Seniors of the kirk complain to the ministry of the two next adjacent kirks, where men of greater gravity are. To whose admonition if he be found inobedient, he ought to be discharged of his ministry, till his repentance appear, & a place be vacant for him. If any Minister be deprehended [seized] in any notable crime, as whoredom, adultery, man-slaughter, perjury, teaching of heresy, or any other deserving death, or that may be a note of perpetual infamy, he ought to be deposed forever. By heresy we mean pernicious doctrine plainly taught, and openly defended against the foundations and principles of our faith: and such a crime we judge to deserve perpetual deposition from the ministry. For most dangerous we know it to be to commit the flock to a man infected with the pestilence of heresy. Some crimes deserve deposition for a time, & while [until] the person give declaration of greater gravity & honesty. And if a minister be deprehended [seized], drinking, brawling, or fighting, an open slanderer, or infamer [defamer] of his neighbors, factious, and a sower of discord, he must be commanded to cease from his ministry, till he declare some sign of repentance, upon the which the Kirk shall abide him the space of 20 days, or further, as the kirk shall think expedient, before they proceed to a new election. Every inferior kirk shall by one of their Seniors, and one of their Deacons, once in the year, notify unto the ministers of the Superintendents kirk, the life, manners, study & diligence of their ministers, to the end the discretion of some may correct the levity of others. Not only must the life and manners of ministers come under censure and judgment of the kirk, but also of their wives, children, and family, judgement must be taken, that he neither live riotously, neither yet avariciously; yea respect must be had, how they spend the stipend appointed to their living. If a reasonable stipend be appointed, and they live avariciously, they must be admonished to live as they receive: for as excess & superfluity is not tolerable in a minister, so is avarice, and the careful solicitude of money, utterly to be damned in Christ’s servants, and especially in them that are fed upon the charge of the kirk. We judge it unseemly and intolerable, that ministers shall be boarded in common Ale-houses, or in Taverns, neither yet must a minister be permitted to frequent & commonly haunt the Court, unless it be for a time when he is either sent by the kirk, either yet called for by the authority, for his counsel and judgment in civil affaires, neither yet must he be one of the council, be he judged never so apt for the purpose. But either must he cease from the ministry (which at his own pleasure he may not do) or else from bearing charge in civil affairs, unless it be to assist the parliament, if they be called.
The office of Deacons, as before is said is to receive the rents, & gather the alms of the kirk, to keep and distribute the same, as by the ministers and kirk shall be appointed, they may also assist in judgement with the Minister and Elders, and may be admitted to read in assembly, if they be required, and be able thereto.
The Elders and Deacons with their wives & household, should be under the same censure that is prescribed for the ministers. For they must be careful over their office, and seeing they are judges over others manners, their own conversation ought to be irreprehensible. They must be sober, lovers and maintainers of concord and peace: and finally, they ought to be examples of godliness to others. And if the contrary thereof appear, they must be admonished thereof by the Ministers, or some of their brethren of the ministry, if the fault be secret: and if the fault be open and known, they must be rebuked before the ministry, and the same order kept against the Senior and Deacon, that before is described against the Minister. We think it not necessary, that any public stipend shall be appointed, either to the Elders, or yet to the Deacons, because their travail continues but for a year, and also because that they are not so occupied with the affaires of the kirk, but that reasonably they may attend upon their domestical business.
The ninth head concerning the policy of the kirk.
Policy wee call an exercise of the kirk in such things as may bring the rude and ignorant to knowledge, or else inflame the learned to greater fervency, or to retain the kirk in good order; And thereof there be two sorts, the one utterly necessary, as that the word be truly preached, the sacraments rightly ministered, common prayers publicly made, that the children & rude persons be instructed in the chief points of religion, & that offences be corrected & punished. These things be so necessary, that without the same there is no face of a visible kirk. The other is profitable, but not merely necessary. That Psalms should be sung, that certain places of the Scripture be read when there is no sermon, that this day or that, few or many in the week, the kirk should assemble. Of these and such others, we cannot see how a certain order can be established. For in some kirks the Psalms may conveniently be sung, in others perchance they cannot. Some kirks convene every day, some twice, some thrice in the week, some perchance but once. In this and such like must every particular kirk by their consent appoint their own policy. In great Townes we think expedient, that every day there be either Sermon, or common prayers, with some exercise of reading of Scriptures. What day the public Sermon is, we can neither require nor greatly approve, that the common prayers be publicly used; lest that wee shall either foster the people in superstition, who come to the prayers, as they come to the Mass, or else give them occasion, that they think them no prayers, but which be made before and after Sermons.
In every notable town, we require that one day beside the Sunday, be appointed to the Sermon and prayers, which during the time of Sermon must be kept free from all exercise of labor, as well of the Master as of the Servant. In smaller towns, as we have said, the common consent of the Kirk must put order, but the Sunday must straightly be kept both before and after noon in all towns. Before noon must the word be preached, and Sacraments ministered, as also marriage solemnized, if occasion offer: after noon must the young children be publicly examined in their Catechism in the audience of the people, whereof the Minister must take great diligence, as well to cause the people understand the questions proponed, as answers, and that doctrine, that may be collected thereof.
The order, & how much is appointed for every Sunday is already distinguished in the book of our common order, which Catechism is the most perfect that ever yet was used in the kirk; and after noon may Baptism be ministered, when occasion is offered of great travail before noon. It is also to be observed, that prayers be after noon upon Sunday, where there is neither preaching nor catechism. It appertains to the policy of the kirk to appoint the times when the Sacraments shall be ministered. Baptism may be ministered whensoever the word is preached. But we think it more expedient that it be ministered upon Sunday, or upon the day of prayers only after Sermon; Partly to remove this gross error, by the which many are deceived, thinking that children be damned if they die without Baptism; and partly to make the people have greater reverence to the administration of the Sacraments then they have: for we see the people begin already to wax weary by reason of the frequent repetition of those promises.
Four times in the year we think sufficient to the administration of the Lord’s Table, which we desire to be distinguished, that the superstition of times may be avoided so far as may be. For your Honors are not ignorant how superstitiously the people run to that action at Pasche [i.e., Easter], even as if the time gave virtue to the Sacrament; and how the rest of the whole year, they are careless and negligent, as if it appertained not unto them, but at that time only. We think therefore most expedient, that the first Sunday of March be appointed for one time, the first Sunday of June for another; the first Sunday of September for the third; the first Sunday of December for the fourth. We do not deny but any several Kirk for reasonable causes may change the time, and may minister oftener, but we study to repress superstition. All Ministers must be admonished to be more careful to instruct the ignorant, then ready to serve their appetite, and to use more sharp examination, then indulgence, in admitting to these great Mysteries such as be ignorant of the use and virtue of the same. And therefore we think that the administration of the Table ought never to be without examination passing before, & specially of them whose knowledge is suspect. We think that none are to be admitted to this Mystery, who cannot formally say the Lord’s prayer, the Articles of the Belief [i.e., The Apostles’ Creed], and declare the sum of the Law. Further, we think it a thing most expedient & necessary, that every Kirk have the Bible in English, and that the people be commanded to convene and hear the plain reading and interpretation of the Scripture, as the kirk shall appoint. By frequent reading, this gross ignorance, which in this cursed Papistry hath overflowed all, may partly be removed. We think it most expedient that the Scripture be read in order: that is, that someone book of the old or new Testament be begun and orderly read to the end: And the same we judge of preaching, where the Minister for the most part remains in one place. For this skipping and divagation from place to place of Scripture, be it in reading, or be it in preaching, we judge not so profitable to edify the Kirk, as the continual following of one text. Every Master of household must be commanded either to instruct, or cause to be instructed, his children, servants, and family, in the principals of the Christian Religion without the knowledge whereof, ought none to be admitted to the Table of the Lord Jesus. For such as be so dull, and so ignorant, that they can neither try themselves, nor yet know the dignity and mystery of that action, cannot eat and drink of that Table worthily. And therefore of necessity we judge, that every year at the least, public examination be had by the Ministers & Elders, of the knowledge of every person within the kirk; to wit, that every Master and Mistress of household come themselves, and their family, so many as be come to maturity, before the Minister and the Elders, & give confession of their faith. If they understand not, nor cannot rehearse the commandments of God’s Law, know not how to pray, neither wherein their righteousness stands, or consists, they ought not to be admitted to the Lord’s Table. And if they stubbornly contemn, & suffer their children and servants to continue in willful ignorance, the discipline of the Kirk must proceed against them to excommunication: and then must that matter be referred to the Civil Magistrate. For seeing that the just lives by his own faith, and Christ Jesus justifies by knowledge of himself, insufferable we judge it that men be permitted to live and continue in ignorance, as members of the Kirk.
Moreover, men, women, children, would be exhorted to exercise themselves in Psalms, that when the Kirk doth convene and sing, they may be the more able together, with common hearts and voices to praise God. In private houses we think expedient, that the most grave and discrete person, use the common prayers at morn and at night, for the comfort and instruction of others. For seeing that we behold and see the hand of God now presently striking us with divers plagues, we think it a contempt of his judgements, or provocation of his anger more to be kindled against us, if we be not moved to repentance of our former unthankfulness, and to earnest invocation of his name, whose only power may, and great mercy will, if we unfeignedly convert unto him, remove from us these terrible plagues, which now for our iniquities hang over our heads. Convert us, O Lord, and we shall be converted.
For Prophesying, or Interpreting of the Scriptures.
TO the end that the Kirk of God may have a trial of men’s knowledge, judgements, graces and utterances, as also such that have somewhat profited in God’s word, may from time to time grow, in more full perfection to serve the Kirk, as necessity shall require, it is most expedient that in every town, where Schools and repair of learned men are, there be in one certain day every week appointed to that exercise, which S. Paul calls prophesying; The order whereof is expressed by him in these words. Let two or three Prophets speak, and let the rest judge, But if anything be revealed to him that sits by, let the former keep silence; ye may one by one all prophesy that all may learn, and all may receive consolation. And the spirit, that is, the judgements of the Prophets, are subject to the Prophets. By which words of the Apostle, it is evident that in the Kirk of Corinth, when they did assemble for that purpose, some place of Scripture was read, upon the which one first gave his judgement to the instruction & consolation of the auditors: after whom did another, either confirm what the former had said, or added what he had omitted, or did gently correct, or explain more properly, where the whole verity was not revealed to the former. And in case things were hid from the one, and from the other, liberty was given for a third to speak his judgement to the edification of the Kirk. Above which number of three (as appears) they passed not for avoiding of confusion. This exercise is a thing most necessary for the Kirk of God this day in Scotland. For thereby, as said is, shall the Kirk have judgement, and knowledge of the graces, gifts, and utterances of every man within their body. The simple, and such as have somewhat profited, shall be encouraged daily to study, & to proceed in knowledge the kirk shall be edified. For this exercise must be patent to such, as list to hear and learn, and every man shall have liberty to utter and declare his mind and knowledge to the comfort and consolation of the kirk. But least of this profitable exercise, there arise debate and strife; curious, peregrine, and unprofitable questions are to be avoided. All interpretation disagreeing from the principles of our faith, repugnant to charity, or that stands in plain contradiction with any other manifest place of Scripture, is to be rejected. The Interpreter in this exercise, may not take to himself the liberty of a public Preacher (yea, although he be a Minister appointed) but he must bind himself to his text, that he enter not in digression, or in explaining common places [of theology]: he may use no invective in that exercise, unless it be of sobriety in confuting heresies: in exhortations or admonitions he must be short, that the time may be spent in opening the mind of the Holy Ghost in that place: following the sequel and dependence of the text, and observing such notes, as may instruct and edify the auditor for avoiding of contention: neither may the interpreter, nor any in the Assembly move any question in open audience, whereto himself is not able to give resolution, without reasoning with another, but every man ought to speak his own judgement to the edification of the Kirk.
If any be noted with curiosity of bringing in of strange doctrine, he must be admonished by the Moderator, Ministers and Elders, immediately after the interpretation is ended.
The whole Ministers, a number of them that are of the Assembly, ought to convene together, where examination should be had, how the persons that did interpret, did handle and convey the matter (they themselves being removed) to every man must be given his censure. After the which, the person being called the faults (if any notable be found) are noted, and the person gently admonished.
In that Assembly are all questions and doubts, if any arise, resolved without contention; the Ministers of the Parish kirks in Landward adjacent to every chief Town, and the Readers, if they have any gift of interpretation within six miles, must concur and assist these that prophecy within the towns, to the end that they themselves may either learn, or others may learn by them. And moreover men in whom is supposed to be any gift which might edify the Church, if they were well employed, must be charged by the Minister and Elders, to join themselves with the session, and company of interpreters, to the end that the Kirk may judge whether they be able to serve to God’s glory, and to the profit of the Kirk in the vocation of Ministers or not: And if any be found disobedient, and not willing to communicate the gifts and special graces of God with their brethren, after sufficient admonition, Discipline must proceed against them, provided that the civil Magistrate concur with the judgement and election of the Kirk. For no man may be permitted as best pleaseth him, to live within the Kirk of God, but every man must be constrained by fraternal admonition, and correction to bestow his labors, when of the Kirk he is required to the edification of others. What day in the week is most convenient for that exercise, what books of Scripture shall be most profitable to read, we refer to the judgement of every particular kirk, we mean, to the wisdom of the Minister and Elders.
Because that Marriage, the blessed ordinance of God, in this cursed Papistry, hath partly bene contemned, and partly hath been so infirmed, that the parties conjoined could never be assured in conscience, if the Bishops and Prelates list to dissolve the same, we have thought good to shew our judgements how such confusion in times coming may be avoided.
And first public inhibition must be made, that no person under the power or obedience of others; such as sons and daughters, and those that be under curators, neither men nor women contract marriage privately, and without knowledge of their parents, tutors or curators, under whose power they are for the time: Which if they do, the censure and discipline of the Kirk to proceed against them. If the son or daughter, or other, have their heart touched with the desire of marriage, they are bound to give honor to their parents, that they open unto them their affection, asking their counsel and assistance, how that motion, which they judge to be of God, may be performed. If the father, friend or master, gainstand their request, and have no other cause then the common sort of men have; to wit, lack of goods, and because they are not so high borne, as they require, yet must not the parties whose hearts are touched, make any covenant till further declaration be made unto the Kirk of God, and therefore after that they have opened their minds to their parents, or such others as have charge over them, they must declare it to the Minister also, or to the Civil Magistrate, requiring them to travail with their parents for their consent, which to doe they are bound. And if they, to wit, the Minister or Magistrate, find no cause, that is just, why the marriage required, may not be fulfilled, then after sufficient admonition, to the father, friend, master, or superior, that none of them resist the work of God, the Minister or Magistrate may enter in the place of parents, and be consenting to their just requests, may admit them to marriage; For the work of God ought not to be hindered, by the corrupt affections of worldly men. The work of God we call, when two hearts, without filthiness before committed, are so joined, and both require and are content to live together in that holy band of Matrimony. If any commit fornication with that woman he requires in Marriage, they do both loose this foresaid benefit as well of the Kirk, as of the Magistrate; For neither of both ought to be intercessors or advocates for filthy fornicators. But the father, or nearest friend, whose daughter being a virgin is deflowered, hath power by the law of God to compel the man that did that injurie, to marry his daughter: and if the father will not accept him by reason of his offence, then may he require the dowry of his daughter, which if the offender be not able to pay, then ought the civil magistrate to punish his body by some other punishment. And because whoredom, fornication, adultery, are sins most common in this realm; we require of your Honors in the name of the eternal God, that severe punishment, according as God hath commanded, bee executed against such wicked condemners. For we doubt not, but such enormities and crimes openly committed, provoke the wrath of God, as the Apostle speaketh, not only upon the offenders, but upon such places, where without punishment they are committed. But to return to our former purpose. Marriage ought not to be contracted amongst persons, that have no election for lack of understanding. And therefore we affirm that bairns [children] and infants cannot lawfully be married in their minor age, to wit, the man within 14 years, and the woman 12 years at least. Which if it have been, and they have kept themselves always separate, we cannot judge them to adhere, as men and wives, by reason of that promise which in God’s presence was no promise at all: but if in years of judgement they have embraced the one the other, then by reason of that last consent, they have ratified that which others have permitted for them in their youth.
In a reformed kirk marriage ought not to be secretly used, but in open face, and public audience of the kirk, and for avoiding of dangers, expedient it is, that the band be publicly proclaimed; Sundays, unless the persons be so known, that no suspicion of danger may arise: and then may the time be shortened at the discretion of the ministry. But no ways can we admit marriage to be used secretly, how honorable soever the persons be. The Sunday before noon we think most expedient for marriage, and it be used no day else, without the consent of the whole ministry. Marriage once lawfully contracted, may not be dissolved at man’s pleasure, as our master Christ Jesus doth witness, unless adultery be committed; which being sufficiently proved in presence of the civil magistrate, the innocent (if they so require) ought to be pronounced free, and the offender ought to suffer death, as God hath commanded. If the civil sword foolishly spare the life of the offender, yet may not the kirk be negligent in their office, which is to excommunicate the wicked, and to repute them as dead members, & to pronounce the innocent party to be at freedom, be they never so honorable before the world. If the life be spared, as it ought not to be to the offenders, and if fruits of repentance of long time appear in them, and if they earnestly desire to be reconciled with the Kirk, we judge they may be received to the participation of the Sacraments, and other benefits of the kirk. For we would not that the kirk should hold them excommunicate, whom God absolved, that is the penitent. If any demand whether that the offender after reconciliation with the kirk, may not marry again. We answer, that if they cannot live continently, and if necessity be such, as that they fear further offence of God, we cannot forbid them to use the remedy ordained of God. If the party offended, may be reconciled to the offender, then we judge that on no ways it shall be lawful to the offender to marry any other, except the party that before hath been offended; and the solemnization of the latter marriage must be in the open face of the kirk, like as the former, but without proclamation of bands.
This we do offer as the best counsel that God giveth unto us in so doubtsome a case, but the most perfect reformation were, if your Honors would give to God his honor and glory, that ye would prefer his express commandment to your own corrupt judgements, especially in punishing of these crimes, which he commandeth to be punished with death. For so should ye declare your selves God’s true obedient officers, and your common wealth should be rid of innumerable troubles.
We mean not that sins committed in our former blindness (which be almost buried in oblivion) shall be called again to examination and judgement. But we require that the law may be now, and hereafter so established and execute, that this ungodly impunity of sin have no place within this Realm. For in the fear of God we signify unto your Honors, that whosoever persuades you, that ye may pardon where God commandeth death, deceives your souls, and provokes you to offend God’s Majesty.
Burial in all ages hath been holden in estimation to signify that the same body which was committed to the earth should not utterly perish, but should rise again, and the same we would have kept within this realm. Provided that superstition, idolatry, and whatsoever hath proceeded of a false opinion, and for advantage sake, may be avoided, and singing of Mass, placebo and dirige, and all other prayers over, or for the dead, which are not only superstitious and vain, but also are idolatry, and doe repugnant to the plain Scriptures of God. For plain it is, that every one that dieth, departeth either in the faith of Christ Jesus, or departeth in incredulity [unbelief]. Plain it is, that they that depart in the true faith of Christ Jesus rest from their labors, and from death doe go to life everlasting; as by our Master and his Apostles we are taught. But whosoever departeth in unbelief, or in incredulity, shall never see life, but the wrath of God abides upon him. And so we say, that prayers for the dead are not only superstitious and vain, but do expressly repugnant to the manifest Scriptures and verity thereof. For avoiding of all inconveniences we judge it best, that neither singing, nor reading be at burial. For albeit things sung and read may admonish some of the living to prepare themselves for death, yet shall some superstitious, think that singing, and reading of the living may profit the dead. And therefore we think it most expedient, that the dead be conveyed to the place of burial with some honest company of the kirk, without either singing or reading; yea, without all kind of ceremony heretofore used, other than that the dead be committed to the grave, with such gravity and sobriety, as those that be present may seem to fear the judgements of God, and to hate sin which is the cause of death.
We are not ignorant, that some require a Sermon at the burial, or else some place of Scripture to be read, to put the living in mind that they are mortal, and that likewise they must die. But let these men understand, that the Sermons which be daily made, serve for that use, which if men despise, the funeral Sermons shall rather nourish superstition, and a false opinion, as before is said, then that they shall bring such persons to a godly consideration of their own estate. Attour [Moreover] either shall the Ministers for the most part be occupied in funeral Sermons, or else they shall have respect of persons, preaching at the burials of the rich and honorable, but keeping silence when the poor and despised departeth, and this with safe conscience cannot the Minister doe. For seeing that before God, there is no respect of persons, and that their Ministry appertaineth to all alike, whatsoever they do to the rich in respect of their Ministry, the same they are bound to do to the poorest under their charge. In respect of divers inconveniences we think it neither seemly that the Kirk appointed to preaching and ministration of the Sacraments shall be made a place of burial, but that some other secret and convenient place, lying in the most free air, be appointed for that use, which place ought to be walled and fenced about, and kept for that use only.
For reparation of the Kirks.
Lest that the word of God, and ministration of the Sacraments by unseemliness of the place come in contempt, of necessity it is, that the Kirk and place where the people ought publicly to convene, be with expedition repaired with doors, windows, thatch [i.e., for the roof], and with such preparation within, as appertaineth as well to the Majesty of God, as unto the ease and commodity of the people. And because we know the slothfulness of men in this behalf, and in all other, which may not redound to their private commodity, strait charge and commandment must be given, that within an certain day the reparation must be begun, and within another day to be affixed by your Honors, that it may be finished. Penalties and sums of money must be enjoined, and without pardon taken from the condemners.
The reparation would be according to the ability and number of Kirks. Every Kirk must have doors, close windows of glass, thatch [or slate] able to with-hold rain, a bell to convocate the people together, a pulpit, a basin for Baptizing, and tables for ministration of the Lord’s Supper. In greater Kirks, and where the Congregation is great in number, must reparation be made within the Kirk, for the quiet and commodious receiving of the people. The expenses are to be lifted partly of the people, and partly of the teinds, at the consideration of the Ministry.
For punishment of those that profane the Sacraments and contemn the word of God, and dare presume to minister them not being thereto lawfully called.
AS Satan hath never ceased from the beginning, to draw mankind in one of two extremities, to wit, that men should either be so ravished with gazing upon the visible creatures, that forgetting the cause wherefore they are ordained, they attributed unto them a virtue and power, which God hath not granted unto them: or else that men should so contemn and despise God’s blessed Ordinance, and holy Institutions, as if that neither in the right use of them there were any profit, neither yet in their profanations there were any danger. As this way, we say Satan hath blinded the most part of mankind from the beginning: so doubt we not, but that he will strive to continue in his malice even to the end. Our eyes have seen, and presently doe see the experience of the one, and of the other. What was the opinion of the most part of men, of the Sacrament of Christ’s body and blood, during the darkness of superstition, is not unknown? How it was gazed upon, kneeled unto, borne in procession, and finally worshipped & honored as Christ Jesus himself. And so long as Satan might then retain men in that damnable idolatry, he was quiet, as one that possessed his Kingdom of darkness peaceably. But since that it hath pleased the mercies of God to reveal unto the unthankful world the light of his Word, the right use and administration of his Sacraments, he assays man upon the contrary part. For where not long ago men stood in such admiration of that idol the Mass, that none durst have presumed to have said the Mass, but the shaven sort, the beasts marked men; some dare now be so bold as without all vocation to minister, as they suppose, the true Sacraments in open Assemblies: and some idiots (yet more wickedly and impudently) dare counterfeit in their house, that which the true Ministers doe in the open Congregations. They presume we say, to do it in houses without reverence, without word preached, and without minister. This contempt proceeds, no doubt, from the malice and craft of that Serpent, who first deceived man of purpose to deface the glory of Christ’s Evangel, and to bring his blessed Sacraments in a perpetual contempt: And further, your Honors may clearly see, how stubbornly & proudly the most part despises the Evangel of Christ Jesus offered unto you, whom unless that sharply & stoutly ye resist, we mean as well the manifest despiser, as the profaner of the Sacraments, ye shall find them pernicious enemies ere it be long. And therefore in the name of the eternal God, and of his Son Christ Jesus, we require of your Honors that without delay, strait Laws be made against the one, and the other.
We dare not prescribe unto you, what penalties shall be required of such: But this we fear not to affirm, that the one and the other deserve death. For if he who doth falsify the seal, subscription, or coin of a King is judged worthy of death, what shall we think of him who plainly doth falsify the Seals of Christ Jesus, Prince of the Kings of the earth? If Darius pronounced that a balk [beam] should be taken from the house of that man, and he himself hanged upon it, that durst attempt to hinder the re-edifying of the material Temple, what shall we say of those, that contemptuously blaspheme God, and manifestly hinder the Temple of God, which is the souls and bodies of the elect to be purged by the true preaching of Christ Jesus, from the superstition and damnable idolatry in which they have bene long plunged, and holden captive? If ye, as God forbid, declare your selves careless over the true Religion, God will not suffer your negligence unpunished: And therefore more earnestly we require that strait laws may be made against the stubborn condemners of Christ Jesus, and against such as dare presume to minister his Sacraments, not orderly called to that office, least while that there be none found to gainstand impiety, the wrath of God be kindled against the whole.
The Papistical Priests have neither power, nor authority to minister the Sacraments of Christ Jesus, because that in their mouth is not the Sermon of exhortation: and therefore to them must strait Inhibition be made, notwithstanding any usurpation they have had in the time of blindness. It is neither the clipping of their crowns, the greasing of their fingers, nor the blowing of the dumb dogs called the Bishops, neither the laying on of their hands, that maketh Ministers of Christ Jesus. But the Spirit of God inwardly first moving the hearts to seek Christ’s glory, and the profit of his Kirk, and thereafter the nomination of the people, the examination of the learned, and public admission (as before is said) make men lawful Ministers of the Word and Sacraments. We speak of an ordinary vocation; and not of that which is extraordinary, when God by himself, and by his only power, raiseth up to the Ministry such as best pleaseth his wisdom.
THUS have we in these few heads offered unto your Honors our judgements, according as we were commanded, touching the reformation of things, which heretofore have altogether bene abused in this cursed Papistry. We doubt not but some of our petitions shall appear strange unto you at the first sight. But if your wisdoms deeply consider, that we must answer not only unto man, but also before the throne of the eternal God, and of his Son Christ Jesus, for the counsel which we give in this so grave a matter, your Honors shall easily consider, that more assured it is to us to fall in the displeasure of all men in the earth, then to offend the majesty of God, whose justice cannot suffer flatterers, and deceitful counselors unpunished. That we require the Kirk to be set at such liberty, that she neither be compelled to feed idle bellies, neither yet to sustain the tyranny which heretofore hath been by violence maintained, we know we shall offend many, but if we should keep silence hereof, we are most assured to offend the just and righteous God, who by the mouth of his Apostle hath pronounced this sentence; He that laboureth not, let him not eat. If we in this behalf, or in any other, require or ask any other thing then by God’s express commandment, by equity and good conscience ye are bound to grant; let it be noted, and after repudiate. But if we require nothing which God requireth not also, let your Honors take heed, how ye gainstand the charge of him, whose hand and punishment ye cannot escape. If blind affection rather lead you to have respect to the sustentation of these your carnal friends, who tyrannously have empired above the flock of Christ Jesus, then that the zeal of Christ Jesus his glory provoke and move you to set his oppressed Kirk at freedom and liberty, we fear your sharp and sudden punishments, and that the glory and honor of this enterprise be reserved unto others. And yet shall this our judgement abide to the generations following for a monument and witness how lovingly God called you, and this nation to repentance: what counselors God sent unto you, and how ye have used the same. If obediently ye hear God now calling, we doubt not but he shall hear you in your greatest necessity. But if, following your own corrupt judgements, ye contemn his voice and vocation, we are assured that your former iniquity, and present ingratitude, shall together crave great punishment from God, who cannot long delay to execute his most just judgements, when after many offences and long blindness grace and mercy offered is contemptuously refused.
God the father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by the power of his holy Spirit, so illuminate your hearts, that ye may clearly see what is pleasing and acceptable in his presence, and so bow the same to his obedience, that ye may prefer his revealed will to your own affections. And so strengthen you by the spirit of fortitude, that boldly ye may punish vice and maintain virtue within this Realm, to the praise and glory of his holy name, to the comfort and assurance of your own consciences, and to the consolation, and the good example of the posterity following, Amen.
From Edinburgh the 20 of May 1560.
By your Honors most humble servitors.
Act of Secret Council 17 of January anno 1560.
We which have subscribed these presents, having advised with the Articles herein specified, as is above mentioned from the beginning of this book, thinks the same good and conform to God’s word in all points; conform to the notes and additions hereto eiked [supplemented]: and promises to set the same forward to the uttermost of our powers. Providing that the Bishops, Abbots, Priors, and other Prelates and beneficed men which else have adjoined them to us, brook [enjoy] the revenues of their benefices during their lifetimes, they sustaining and upholding the Ministry and Ministers, as herein is specified, for the preaching of the Word, and ministering of the Sacraments.
William Lord Hay.
M. Alexander Gordon.
William of Culross.
John Lockhart of Bar.
John Schaw of Halie.
Scot of Haning.
George Fenton of that ilk.
Andrew Ker of Fadonside.
Andrew Hamilton of Lethame.
Deane of Murray.